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Shopping for shoes can be a drag, whether you're scrolling through snow boots or running sneakers, and especially if you have wide feet and lifelong bunions like I do. I want something stylish, of course, but I don’t want my shoes to pinch my feet and result in discomfort after just a few hours of wear, which used to be the case until I got very careful about the type of shoes I bought. And after cycling through various sneakers from expert-recommended brands like Asics and Brooks, I recognized that I just wasn’t satisfied with my current lineup of cross-training kicks. Some sneakers didn’t offer enough cushioning for long walks and others weren’t accommodating to my bunions. Plus, shopping for shoes often felt like a chore since it would easily take me upward of 90 minutes to find a decent shoe, taking my time and try on multiple pairs of the same shoe. Coming up short on comfy-meets-stylish options left me frustrated and disappointed and I often left shoe stores empty-handed. So for years I’d stick with just OK shoes that did the job but didn’t necessarily check off my boxes.
As a result, I would sometimes forgo working out because I didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable sneakers pinching my feet or leaving my footbeds sore. However, my dad wasn’t going to let uncomfortable shoes stop me from joining him on walks. An avid walker who takes pride in hitting at least 20,000 steps a day, he researched online and eventually discovered Hoka One One, an American brand owned by Deckers Group (best known as the owner of Ugg boots and Sanuk flip flops). A fan of both Uggs and Sanuk, Hoka intrigued me. My dad initially tested out a pair of Hoka Bondi sneakers and soon realized the shoes could keep up with his active lifestyle. He gifted my mom and me each a pair of the same Hoka Bondi sneakers. “They’re like pillows for your feet,” my dad told me about his Bondis. And after four years of rotating between three pairs of Bondis myself, I can safely say he’s not overly dramatic with this enthusiasm.
The Bondi sneaker is Hoka’s most cushioned road shoe, boasting a thick midsole that my parents and I all find extremely comfortable during high-impact workouts and on long walks. The brand says its thick rounded Meta-Rocker sole will “drive runners forward” and reduce the height difference between the heel and toe of the shoes. I find this helpful — despite the shoe’s clunky appearance, it isn’t awkward to walk in. In fact, I regularly wore my Bondis during long walks down Manhattan’s Hudson River Greenway. The Bondi sports memory foam foot collars around the ankles and feature a mesh upper for breathability. For an additional layer of cushiony comfort, I like to pair my Hoka sneakers with white Balega socks.
And if you’re like me and appreciate top-rated products, consider that the Bondi 7 sneakers earned a 4.7-star average rating from more than 1,660 reviews on Hoka’s site. Other than ordering directly through the brand, you can find Hoka sneakers at Nordstrom, Amazon and Zappos, as well as at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom Rack.
Hoka also makes wide width shoes. Despite my wide feet, I can get away with sporting the brand’s regular shoes when I go up half-a-size. Right now, the women’s regular Bondi 7 is available in seven colorways, like Blue Haze/Black Iris, a pale blue mesh upper with flares of navy, orange and pink. You can also find more demure colorways like Blue Fog/Blue Shadow if you prefer. If you need wide-width sneakers, then you have four options: Lunar Rock/Black Iris, Blue Haze/Black Iris, Black and Black/White.
You’re also not limited to wearing these sneakers only while exercising — these chunky kicks are surprisingly stylish. After a few months of initial wear, I soon understood the appeal of the “ugly dad shoe” trend, notably seen on the Balenciaga runway in 2018 and on the feet of dads across America who favor New Balance shoes. And despite previously working at a well-known high fashion magazine, I never felt uncomfortable wearing my sneakers to the office on casual Fridays. My styling secret is to sport my muted green and white Bondi’s (the colorway is now discontinued) because the neutral tones are less in your face and more office-appropriate — for when that matters more, anyway.